5 Reasons I Love The Girl and The Ghost by Hanna Alkaf


The Girl and The Ghost

by Hanna Alkaf

e-book, 288 pages

Published August 4th 2020 by HarperCollins

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I am a dark spirit, the ghost announced grandly. I am your inheritance, your grandmother’s legacy. I am yours to command.

Suraya is delighted when her witch grandmother gifts her a pelesit. She names her ghostly companion Pink, and the two quickly become inseparable.

But Suraya doesn’t know that pelesits have a dark side—and when Pink’s shadows threaten to consume them both, they must find enough light to survive . . . before they are both lost to the darkness.

“I always wanted to know about my family,” Suraya said quietly, and her voice was small and sad. “But all I’ve learned of my grandmother so far is that she was a horrible, mean person. And I have her blood. What does that say about me?”

“It says that the most beautiful blooms come from the darkest soil.”

01. The tone of the story. I knew I’d love this book from the prologue, where our main character the pelesit narrates the death of its master in such bitterness, but also loneliness and confusion and dry humor. Despite being a pelesit, the prologue alone shows how it is not a one dimensional character, that despite the relief of being free it also relies on the master. It also sets the tone for the intriguing mystery that is the pelesit origin. Following the prologue, the chapters become humorous with how lively and exuberant Suraya was and how Pink acts like a harried mom trying to keep Suraya safe 😂 And yet even when Suraya already have pink, the story still carries a tinge of loneliness until Suraya went to school. Then the story progressively gets darker, with Pink’s darker impulses, the pawang, and the third act of the story. Despite all the humor and laughter, you can feel the sadness and hidden darkness at the core of the story.

02. Related to the previous points, the author’s writing conveys the characters feelings really well! Pink has such a unique voice in a way that it sounds like a sassy petulant children (I wonder where he got this trait from…), but at the same time like a tired ancient being. Suraya was joyful most of the time, but you can see that despite having Pink, she was always longing for more. Each chapters of Suraya’s life felt so different because her feelings were conveyed so well. Without many dialogues or words, we can see the strained relationship between Suraya and her mom, of the loneliness, tiredness, sadness, and hidden secrets weighing between them.

03. The themes of intergenerational family and forgiveness. I am a sucker for books about family and this one just hits right on the feels! 😭 It was really hard watching Suraya vying for her mom’s attention and got the door closed in her face every time, of her trying to learn more about her mother and her deceased father or anyone from her family to know herself more. At the end though, finding out the truth about Pink’s existence and the grandmother’s lives, how her mom’s relationship with her grandmother gave a truth Suraya needed to learn how to forgive each other and themselves. It was beautiful and poignant and makes this one of my favorite family-themed books.

04. The story is set in Malaysia and I love how Malaysian culture is always at the forefront. It is a delight in introducing Malaysian culture to wider audience, and for me, it made me really happy to see stuff I’m familiar about. From the food they’re eating, the social interactions including the Malaysian English and Suraya’s interaction with the taxi driver (it was hilarious lol), to Rasa Sayang… I had so much fun while reading and it helps me in visualizing and empathizing with the story.

05. And finally, the characters. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but all characters really shine in this book. We have Suraya, who despite being lonely and neglected received more than enough love from Pink to grow into a kind, empathetic, and brave girl. We have entusiastic and brave Jing, who helps Suraya and Pink through dangers and despite the fact Pink hurt her before. We have Suraya’s mom, with scars from the past. We have Jing’s mom, the tiger mom 😭 and the cast of ghosts such as Hussein, saloma, and Badrul who are willing to help them in their adventure. And of course we have Pink, who despite his nature try his best to become the best example for Suraya to look up to, who become her closest companion and protects her from any kind of harm. Both the main and the side characters just vividly came to life and became a memorable parts of the story.

The Girl and The Ghost is definitely one of my favorite reads this year. With amazing cast of characters, familial themes, a lot of laugh out loud moments and familiar settings, this book holds a special place in my heart. Despite the central character being a ghost (pelesit), this book is perfect to be read at any time of the year. If you’re looking for a middle grade story that will hit you with a ton of warm feelings, I highly recommend this book!

8 thoughts on “5 Reasons I Love The Girl and The Ghost by Hanna Alkaf

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